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The promised wind… – Spectre – Transantarctic Expedition

The promised wind…

Date = 3/1/2018
Day 43 (Expedition) Day 50 (Antarctica)
Location = Thieil plateau
Coordinates  – S84 24.895’, W80 35.513’
Altitude = 1920m
Temperature =  -14C
Wind speed / direction = 15-20 knot SSE
Windchill = – 24C
Distance travelled = 180km (plus 55km from 02/01/18)
Distance remaining = 560km

Finally our wind arrived and took us not, just out of no man’s land, but well past the Thiel mountains.

Type 1 fun! High speed, low drag, for miles across a creamy smooth surface. So much fun and just what the doctor ordered after our extended spell in the doldrums.

We’ve been searching for this blooming trade wind for 43 days and finally we found it. We have done precious little downwind kiting on this trip, so much so, I had forgotten how easy and relaxed it is, even when massively overpowered.

Today was awesome: perfect sun, surface and finally WIND! We covered 180km with a top speed of 40kmph and an average of 27kmph, pulling 120kgs each, now that’s what I’m talking about!!!

A few more days like that and we’re out of here. We were cruising towards 200km until I lost concentration for a second and ‘bow tied’ my kite. Still on our biggest 15m kites the wind must’ve built to 20knots. A big bow tied kite in a 20 knot wind is game over. We could’ve downsized and continued but it’s been so much fun to make some really meaningful progress, we stopped early with another big day tomorrow in mind.

At one point today, the wind was blowing channels of snow crystals across the textured ground.  Then, with the sun reflecting off these crystals, it created the most splendid effect of riding over a river of dancing jewels. It was so beautiful, travelling at downhill biking speed with a carpet of sequins flowing under foot.

Looping the big kite, downwind on extra-long lines generates the kind of power and acceleration normally associated with an engine. We were almost literally flying all day. The main problem was losing excess speed and trying not to go too fast.

Probably best we stopped when we did. Almost too much fun! Anything can happen and we are certainly not complacent, but we are now north of the Thiel Mountains, on the classic South Pole route. That means the next 420km leg of our route is exposed to a much more favourable wind direction and, dare I say it, it is very likely we can expect more quality kiting to ride home in style. It is hard to believe that, just yesterday, we were hopelessly becalmed, despairing, with almost 800km to go. Now we’re smiling with just over 500km!

We have been tried and tested and teased at every turn on this trip. After much effort, we a reaping some memorable returns. Bring me more!!!!

[Leo]

 

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